I Think I Have Eczema: Is Skin Testing Right for Me?

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I Think I Have Eczema: Is Skin Testing Right for Me?

The National Eczema Foundation estimates that 31 million Americans live with eczema, which can begin in infancy, appear for the first time in adulthood, or add extra angst to the teen years.

The team at Allergy A.R.T.S. in Amarillo, Texas, specializes in expert allergy, asthma, and arthritis care for individuals of all ages. Read their insight about eczema and how skin testing plays a role in treating this frustrating condition.

Eczema types

Eczema, also known as dermatitis, refers to a group of skin conditions characterized by inflammation, itching, redness, and sometimes blistering or peeling. The most common types of eczema include:

Atopic dermatitis (AD)

This is the most common form of eczema and often starts in childhood. It's believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Symptoms include dry, itchy skin and rashes on the face, inside the elbows, behind the knees, and on the hands and feet. AD is frequently associated with other allergic conditions like asthma and hay fever.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is divided into two types: allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis. Allergic contact dermatitis results from exposure to an allergen, such as nickel or poison ivy. Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to harsh chemicals or materials like burlap or wool. Both types present with red, itchy, and sometimes painful skin.

Dyshidrotic eczema

This form of eczema causes small, intensely itchy blisters on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Factors like stress, allergies, moist hands and feet, or exposure to certain substances can trigger the rash.

Nummular eczema (discoid eczema)

Nummular eczema causes coin-shaped lesions on the skin that are often itchy and may be wet or dry. Unlike other forms of eczema, this type can start after a skin injury, such as an insect bite or burn.

Seborrheic dermatitis

This type of eczema typically affects the face, scalp, armpits, and other areas that contain oil-producing (sebaceous) glands. It’s commonly called cradle cap in infants and appears as areas of white to yellowish, scaly, or oily skin.

What causes eczema?

Eczema has several potential causes depending on the type. For instance, atopic dermatitis is often due to an overactive immune system, causing dry and itchy skin that can lead to rash and inflammation associated with eczema. Genetics may also play a role.

Certain substances (allergens) can trigger an immune response, including perfumes, cleaning chemicals, or polyester, resulting in an eczematous rash. Other triggers include contact with metals like nickel in jewelry, prolonged exposure to extreme heat or cold, and dust mites. Increased stress is also a common cause of an eczema outbreak.  

What is skin testing?

Skin testing can help if you have persistent skin issues that don't respond to standard treatment, eczema flares without an obvious reason, or suspect allergies.

Testing for eczema usually refers to patch testing. During patch testing, your Allergy A.R.T.S. provider applies small amounts of potential allergens to patches placed on the skin, usually on the upper back, which remain in place for 24-48 hours. You’ll then return for a recheck to determine if you’ve had a reaction to any of the patches.

Identifying your allergens can help with your customized treatment plan, which may include oral and topical medications, immunotherapy, medical-grade skin moisturizers, and avoiding your eczema triggers.

Schedule an evaluation at Allergy A.R.T.S. today by calling the office or requesting an appointment online.